Cover photo: owned by RIM-Plovdiv
On January 24, 1878, noble Bulgarians, Greeks, Jews and Armenians gathered in one of the large halls of the house of Georgi Klianti on the Three Hills. At the meeting, the city leaders unanimously decided that the mayor needed to be a person of Bulgarian origin and to speak the three most widely used languages in Plovdiv - Bulgarian, Greek and Turkish. Atanas Samokovets, who took the name Samokovliev after the Liberation, was suggested to take over the position.
He was the son of the famous icon painter Dimitar Zograf and the brother of the artist Stanislav Dospevski. He was born in 1832 in Samokov and moved to Plovdiv in 1849. He began his apprenticeship at the age of 17 as a tailor, and then became a master. In partnership with Dimitar Karatoprakliata (D. Chernozemski) he opened an abadzhi shop for trade and a workshop. He quickly advanced in the trade of gaitans, abi, socks and others. Thus, the tailor became a good merchant. Together with Hadzhi Kalcho Drenski, they were the first trustees of the The Mother of God church. Back then the temple was one of the epicenters of the church struggle between Bulgarians and Greeks. In the 70s he was elected a member of the Turkish city council, as well as of the Bulgarian diocesan council. He was in the three-member commission (together with Dr. St. Chomakov and T. Kesyakov), which went after the signing of the San Stefano Peace Treaty of 1878 to thank Grand Duke N. Nikolaevich in San Stefano on behalf of Southern Bulgaria.
Appointed by the Provisional Russian Government, he was a trader by profession and had little administrative and managerial experience. The Russians assisted him in solving the numerous tasks facing the municipality, but he was unable to cope with them and resigned in early March. According to historical analysts, Samokovets was "chosen" because he was a compromise figure. He was equally respected by the Turks (he was a member of the Turkish city office), the Bulgarians and the Greeks, he spoke all three languages. Less than two months later, the first mayor of Plovdiv resigned, believing that this responsibility is beyond his capabilities.
The citizens' representatives then proposed that another prominent Plovdiv citizen take over the city government - Kostaki Peev. He was appointed on March 12, 1878.
According to historical sources, the first mayor of Plovdiv after the Liberation had a house on Stantsionna Street, now Ivan Vazov. He and his family lived at No. 4. In her book The Known Unknown Plovdiv, Penka Kalinkova writes that after that the building of the Italian school was there. There is now a bank building there.
Today, the memory of Atanas Samokovets is preserved at the shortest street in the Kapana district, which bears his name, but hardly any people know his history.